Next Wednesday, 26th May, is Frankie Manning‘s birthday, he would have turned 96. Reason enough to declare the whole week as Frankie Manning week on my Swing Blog. In the following five days, I will post every day an entry which is related to Frankie.
Let's start with Frankie Manning's favourite song: Shiny Stockings by Count Basie (1904-1984), Frank Foster, saxophonist and musical director of the Count Basie Orchestra from 1986-1995, is the composer of this Lindy Hop Hymn.
Jazz journalist Bob Bernotas interviewed Frank Foster in 1991. Here is the song relating excerpt of that interview.
In his 11 years with the Count, Foster contributed a tall stack of marvelous charts to the book (“Blues Backstage,” “Down for the Count,” “Blues in Hoss’ Flat,” “Back to the Apple,” “Discommotion,” the entire Easin’ It album), but none suited the Chief’s prerequisites better than “Shiny Stockings.”
“I wrote ‘Shiny Stockings' in 1955 and we had a rehearsal at a place called Pep's Bar in Philadelphia. We had just arrived in town. Everybody was sleepy, tired, hungry, and evil. Nobody felt like rehearsing. We rehearsed ‘Shiny Stockings' and it sounded like a bunch of jumbled notes, just noise, and I said, ‘Wow, all the work I put into this, and it sounds so horrible. I know Basie will never play it.' And then something very strange happened. He continued to play and it came together. Finally, we recorded it and, well, it’s the very best known piece that I have contributed to the Basie book.
“It embodies all the things that were important to him. It builds-it starts soft and ends with and explosion. It leaves space for the rhythm section to do whatever it’s going to do. It has that ensemble writing which the band can sink their teeth into and really make happen-and a wonderful trumpet solo by Thad Jones.” One more thing: it swings.
“Years later,” Foster remembers with pride, “Basie gave me the supreme compliment. Every now and then, he’d say about a chart, ‘Oh, it’s very nice, kid,' and then leave it at that. Well, he grabbed me, he said, ‘Junior, you know that “Shiny Stockings”? You really put one down that time.' You couldn’t receive a better compliment from Count Basie.”
(c) by Bob Bernotas
Check out Bob Bernotas’ book “Reed All About It: Interviews and Master Classes with Jazz's Leading Reed Players” for the full interview.
Title: Shiny Stockings
Artist: Count Basie
Tempo: 140 bpm
Dance: Lindy Hop
You can find the songs of the series also on my Spotify playlist.
Official hashtag of the series: #djcsotw
Do you like the “Song of the Week” series? Share your thoughts below.